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Title: Love Her and Despair
Chapter 10: "Breach of Fayth"
Final Fantasy X
Characters: Auron, Isaaru, cast
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1870
Summary: Operation Stolen Fayth, Phase I
Navigation: Previous Chapter | Next Chapter
Map of Pilgrimage - Links to All Chapters

Our Story Thus Far: Trying to thwart a new Sin bent on destroying temples, Summoner Isaaru and Auron hatch a plan to rescue Djose's fayth. Most of the Crusaders in the operation are kept in the dark, especially Captain Luzzu, who is suspected of having some way of communicating with Sin.

"Sir Auron, I must protest! You mean to tell me they're not even guardians? They should never have been permitted—"

"Neither are you, Father," Elma said.

The priest stood spreadeagled in the doorway of the Chamber of the Fayth, blocking the workers who had been dismantling its frame. "Your presence here is sheer outrage! Your men have defiled the Cloister of Trials, desecrated the fayth's sanctuary! Why, it will take us years to repair the damage!"

"If there's anything left to repair," Pacce said.

"Hey," Maroda said. "Isaaru's communing with the fayth, remember? If you want your aeon in one piece, I respectfully suggest you shut up."

"Sir Auron, I must protest! You mean to tell me they're not even guardians? They should never have been permitted—"

"Neither are you, Father," Elma said.

The priest stood spreadeagled in the doorway of the Chamber of the Fayth, blocking the workers who had been dismantling its frame. "Your presence here is sheer outrage! You have defiled the Cloister of Trials, desecrated the fayth's sanctuary! Why, it will take us years to repair the damage!"

"If there's anything left to repair," Pacce said.

"Hey," Maroda said. "Isaaru's communing with the fayth, remember? If you want your aeon in one piece, I respectfully suggest you shut up."

Elma, the summoner and his guardians kept vigil around the fayth's resting place with varying degrees of awe. Electricity tickled along the seams of armor like invisible insects. From the open doorway came the clamor of hammers and chisels, workmen's oaths. Yet Isaaru knelt with an expression of profound benison, oblivious to all disturbances. The placid smile of a summoner had slipped away, replaced by the shy, tentative smile of a boy catching his first glimpse of some rapturous vision that would anchor him all his days. A sheen of sweat lay on his brow, but for the first time since Besaid, he looked rested, whole, and at peace.

At last his eyes fluttered open. Auron reached down to keep him from toppling face first into the shallow glass dome over the statue.

Isaaru nodded to him and stood. "It is done," he said. "The fayth understands and accepts. Father Kyou, I beg you to do the same. If there were any other way, believe me, I would never condone this extraordinary breach of holy ground."

"B-but, my lord! What of the teachings? Crusaders are ever apt to abandon Yevon for rash schemes. Even maesters betray us. But you... you were the one who warned us that day, when we brought Sin's wrath upon us."

"Kyou, I remember. After Operation Mi'ihen, I swore an oath that I would vanquish Sin before any more lives were sacrificed to such folly. High Summoner Yuna postponed my vow, but it still holds." Isaaru met the man's distraught gaze with compassion. "But I cannot fulfill my vow if every aeon is lost. Three are already gone. We must save this one, so that I can save Spira. The temple can be rebuilt. Its fayth is irreplaceable."

The former Crusader wilted. "Yes, Your Grace."

"Yevon's blessings upon you." Isaaru bowed to him. "And my thanks. I will need your prayers, Father."

"So now what?" said Elma.

"We must crack its seal and free the statue from its bed." Isaaru said. "Sir Auron?"

"Yes?"

"The fayth asks if you would deliver the blow. He trusts you."

Maroda snorted.

"Very well." Expressionless, Auron hefted the borrowed sword like a child's plaything. "I suggest that everyone stand back."

They retreated into the next room with the workmen. Auron peered at the glass lens covering the floor, trying to gauge its thickness. Below it lay a giant figure of a man pressed into a stony bed as if the mass of the rocks floating above the temple had been transferred onto his broad back. The broad-bladed weapon tucked under the statue's arm looked to have the weight of the one he'd lost. Auron brushed aside a pang of envy and selected a point just past the apex of the lens-shaped dome. His boots rang as he raced forward, leapt, and raised a shout timed to match the downbeat of his stroke. Sparks flew. The blade's tip snapped, but the floor held.

Glowering at his reflection, Auron caught a glimpse of a different shape looming above him, four-legged, all bone and sinew and scars. Ixion, Yuna had named it. Ki-rin, to her father. Eyes like embers blazed.

Remember, guardian. Your power is to break things... and to free them.

Which skill did it mean, Armor Break or Mental Break? Probably both, if he could manage it.

A second time he charged, flinging out his free arm with a shout as he brought the sword crashing down. Reflected in the glass he saw the aeon's horn slicing upwards, mirroring his swing. The sword exploded in a shower of glowing fragments. There was a brilliant blue-white flash that burrowed through skin, marrow, and nerve. Auron went sprawling as the floor collapsed under him.

Groaning, he extricated himself from glassy blocks strewn across the bottom of a shallow pit, covering the statue like chunks of ice. Pacce came running over while the others, more wary, began to file back into the room.

"I'm fine," he said, fending him off. "The fayth?"

Isaaru dropped to his knees, hands cupped over his heart. The chamber had darkened considerably: the pulsing glow within the glass had faded when Auron cracked it. Now the lines of electricity arcing overhead were beginning to fizzle out one by one.

"Shaken," the summoner said, "but undamaged. Father Kyou, I need you to help me with the Hymn of Renewal, to sustain the aeon's spirit while—"

The chamber shook with a tremendous boom, and concussion after concussion followed.

"Sin!" Maroda said. "Isaaru, we've got to get out of here!"

Kyou gave him a scornful look.

"No...no..." Isaaru said. "Have no fear. That's Lightning Rock closing its armor around the temple and its sleeping fayth. But we have little time and much to do. Commander Elma, we are in your hands now. It is time for your engineers to work their wizardry."

"Yessir." She beckoned to her crew. "You three, finish up with the doorway and start wrapping up the statue. Do not touch it directly. The rest of you keep working on that wagon. Pacce, run and tell the rigging team we're ready for them, then join the sentries guarding the cloisters. We don't want any more surprise visitors."

The boy saluted and headed for the stairs, pushing through stonemasons and carpenters laying rails on the steps and assembling a heavy wheeled cart in the guardians' antechamber. Auron trailed after him.

"Hey!" Maroda said. "Where are you going?"

"To find another sword."

Auron and Pacce threaded their way back through the Cloister of Trials, which was both more and less of an obstacle course than usual. Decorative pillars had been removed, doorways cleared and widened, and piles of chipped stone and masonry lay scattered in careless. Tackle and rails stood ready to receive their delicate cargo.

"Sir Auron? Can you... do you sense Sin coming?"

"Sometimes."

"What about now?"

"No."

Pacce sighed. "I wish it would just get here and be done."

"Concentrate on the task at hand. Thinking about a foe you can't see won't help."

Delivering Elma's orders to the rigging team, they continued out to the stairway leading down to Djose's Great Hall. Here the light was stronger, cast by pillars of electricity dancing like fountains over crystalline plinths. To Auron's eyes, however, they seemed dimmer. The remaining clergy, scurrying about like rock-squirrels, halted and looked up anxiously when they emerged.

"The fayth confirms it," Auron said, voice booming out. "Sin is coming. Lord Isaaru and Father Kyou are securing the statue against attack. You have fifteen minutes to evacuate, by order of the high priest. Move!"

They scattered at once, snatching up bundles and rushing for the exit.

"Won't you get in trouble?" Pacce whispered. "I mean, Father Kyou never said—"

Auron looked at him. "Who's going to tell him?"

Pacce broke into a grin. "Not me!"

Auron nodded, resting a hand on his shoulder. "Keep watch. Tell Isaaru I'll be outside with Luzzu."

horizontal divider

It was barely brighter outdoors. A heavy curtain of rain hung beyond the point of Mushroom Rock Ridge across the bay. Dark thunderheads roiled in great lumps overhead like the gravity-defying boulders of Djose Temple. Ignoring the sky, soldiers crisscrossed the yard on urgent tasks. Some guarded the line of monks, nuns, and temple orphans marched towards Djose Highroad. Others fenced the edge of the cliff, looking out at the gray sea.

Auron skirted the line of evacuees and headed towards a brigade of soldiers standing at attention. Unlined faces, not a whisker among them: evidently Yevon was still recruiting children. Their captain was haranguing them.

"...escorting them to Moonflow South. You are authorized to engage ochu, but don't waste men or time. Your first priority is to protect civilians. Once there, erect a temporary lodge and guard the town until you receive the all-clear from Djose Command." Luzzu raised his voice over a smattering of grumbles. "Your mission is a vital part of this operation. I know that you're itching to fight Sin. That's commendable. But I shall not be adding your names to Gatta's Wall. If I find any of you trying to sneak into the front lines, you'll be demoted to cadet and sent to Clasko's stables to muck chocobo chips. Do I make myself clear?"

"Sir!" A wave of crisp salutes answered him.

"Dismissed. Yevon watch over you." Standing with arms folded, Luzzu lowered his voice as Auron approached. "Everything in order?"

"Yes." Auron ignored the eager glances in his direction. "Everyone's evacuated except the high priest. He and Isaaru are securing the Chamber of the Fayth."

"Filling the whole temple with rocks, or what? I hope the commander returns some of my engineers to operate the Lightning Shield." Luzzu arched an eyebrow. "So what happened to you?"

Auron glanced down at the blood dripping from his sleeve. Blood was preferable to pyreflies, but it still felt like a cheap counterfeit.

"Ah." Luzzu grinned wryly. "Something else the heretic Captain Luzzu isn't supposed to notice. So. Is there anything you need?"

"A sword."

"Good grief. I hope you'll fill me in after this is over." He nodded towards a small outbuilding next to the temple. "See the quartermaster in there. We're using the inn for stores."

"Thanks."

"And... Sir Auron?"

He slowed his step.

"Sorry about your glasses."

Auron shrugged. "At least now everyone will stop mistaking me for Al Bhed."

"Ha. If you've got time afterwards, drop by the command lodge. I want to show you the bouquet I've picked out for an old friend. It's just her color."


Next Chapter: Her Favorite Color Is Death

Author's Notes

NPC Trivia: Kyou was a repentent Crusader you bump into after Operation Mi'ihen, who decides to help at Djose (he's the guy who won't let you back into the temple for most of the game after Yuna's declared a traitor).

Chapter renumbering: This was originally Chapter 14, posted Nov 2008. hits counter  

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